How Do I Become a Foster Parent?

If you have ever considered becoming a foster parent to a child who is a dependent of the state, you need to understand the requirements that you must meet to become a part of the foster care system, as a family lawyer in Alameda County, CA, like from Bernie Kempen & Company, can explain. These children need a home where they feel safe and not afraid. Many have suffered from neglect or abuse. For this reason, the standards that need to be met before becoming a foster parent are high to protect these children from any future mistreatment.

Each state has their own laws when it comes to becoming a foster parent. These laws can change, depending on situations that have occurred regarding foster care.  The general requirements for becoming a foster parent are:

  • You must be over 21 years old
  • Have a steady income source that is sufficient to meet the needs of a foster family
  • No felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions of elder, child or sexual abuse
  • Provide a home with enough bedrooms for the foster child or children
  • Be open to an assessment of your home and all members of your family
  • Participate in all training sessions for foster parents that are held by the county or a non-profit agency that handles foster care where you live

If a foster parent works outside the home, it is the financial responsibility of the foster parent to provide for after school care if necessary. 

Married couples as well as single persons are generally permitted to be foster parents. Check with your state laws concerning unmarried adults that are not related but living together. Laws in some states are changing to accommodate same sex couples and couples that are living together but are not married. 

Additional criteria that agencies look for in foster parent include the following:

  • Does the adult have experience with children, namely children with special needs?
  • Is the possible foster parent flexible, dependable, mature and do they have a stable environment?
  • Will the foster parent advocate for the child?
  • Will the foster parent work together with the child, their family, the welfare worker and anyone else involved in the life of the child?

The state will attempt to find a permanent placement for the child as fast as possible, but the amount of time the child stays with the foster parent will vary. The child may be reunited with their birth parents or relatives, another family may wish to adopt them or the foster family may choose to adopt the child.  It is important to realize, as a foster parent, that there is the possibility that the child they may want to adopt may be reunited with their birth family.

Becoming a foster parent can be as rewarding to the adults fostering the child as it is to the child. It is a difficult decision to become a foster parent and made more difficult if you have other children in your home. However, it can make an incredible difference in the life of a child who has perhaps otherwise never lived in a positive, loving home environment. If this is something you wish to pursue, contact a family law attorney to discuss the requirements of becoming a foster parent.